Friday, March 14, 2008

Breeding responsibly - Your Bad Luck Is Not Someone Else's Problem!

Free on DreamHorse:

"Cashmere was born "handicapped". He has been examined and treated by a veterinarian without a diagnosis or prognosis. They don't know what's wrong with him. He probably just needs a good chiropractor. He drags his left hind leg a bit in a canter. He lies down and has trouble getting up. But he is a happy guy and he loves people and loves having his butt scratched. He's growing normally. Is tall for his age and he is extremely muscular. He is very handsome. His sire is a 16'2 halter champ."


I swear, nobody ever thinks about the possibility that they will get the foal that has a problem. Everybody gets all gung-ho about breeding, particularly when you have good bloodlines as you do here (but with way too much HYPP to suit me - and no, I'm not sure if the sire is positive or not, the grandsire definitely was). You know, when you're having a HUMAN baby, most people at least THINK about the possibility that they may have a child that has a mental or physical problem. They think about how they would handle that if it happened. With animals? Oh heck no. It never occurs to anybody for a moment. If you asked the average newbie breeder what they'd do if the foal turned out to be permanently lame, you'd get a dumb look 99 times out of 100.

I could make the obvious comments here - like, if you think a chiro will fix him, CALL THE DAMN CHIRO, cheapskate! But this is a good opportunity to bring up the problem in general: When you breed, you may get a dummy foal that survives but is never quite right. You may get a foal that is crippled from something that happened in the womb. You may get the foal with the wry nose or some other defect (what vaccine was that, WNV, that was causing all of those equine versions of the Thalidomide babies? Yeeesh...) You may have a foal that sustains an injury when very young, no matter how careful you are, that prevents him from ever being ridden or driven. If you are a breeder, what do you do? (I won't bite your head off if you tell me euthanasia. I understand that choice and don't have a problem with it).

It's a good topic to discuss. What happens when you've made good breeding decisions, given the mare excellent care, and something still goes wrong? What is the responsible action to take? I think most of us agree that giving your boo-boo away for free and hoping someone ELSE will give it "a good home" is NOT the responsible action here. What is? What would you do?

And related question...we've all heard whispers about Big Name Sires that pass along some serious defect but all fo the defective babies are quietly euthed or slaughtered and no one is the wiser. How many f'ed up foals do you have to get by a sire (or out of a broodmare) before you need to make a responsible choice and stop breeding them?